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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
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2022-2023 National Merit Cutoffs + Next Steps

What’s Covered:

 

The National Merit Scholarship Program is primarily based on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) which is taken during junior year of high school. For some students, the PSAT/NMSQT is just a test run for the SAT—which is one reason it’s commonly referred to as simply the PSAT—but earning a strong score is an impressive accomplishment to list on a college application and can lead to valuable scholarships. 

 

Over 1.5 million students take the PSAT annually, but just 16,000 students are recognized as semifinalists, who may apply for finalist status and compete for scholarships.

 

National Merit Semifinalist Cutoffs 2022–2023


Below are the National Merit Semifinalist cutoffs for the class of 2023, who took the PSAT in October 2021 or January 2022.

 

State

Selection Index Score

Alabama

212

Alaska

210

Arizona

214

Arkansas

210

California

220

Colorado

217

Connecticut

221

Delaware

218

District of Columbia

223

Florida

216

Georgia

218

Hawaii

215

Idaho

215

Illinois

219

Indiana

214

Iowa

212

Kansas

214

Kentucky

212

Louisiana

213

Maine

215

Maryland

222

Massachusetts

220

Michigan

216

Minnesota

216

Mississippi

210

Missouri

213

Montana

207

Nebraska

212

Nevada

210

New Hampshire

213

New Jersey

223

New Mexico

208

New York

219

North Carolina

217

North Dakota

209

Ohio

216

Oklahoma

211

Oregon

216

Pennsylvania

218

Rhode Island

216

South Carolina

213

South Dakota

212

Tennessee

215

Texas

219

Utah

211

Vermont

213

Virginia

221

Washington

220

West Virginia

207

Wisconsin

213

Wyoming

207

 

How is the PSAT Scored?

 

The PSAT is scored on a scale of 320 to 1520 in ten-point increments and consists of two sections—Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) and Math—with each section worth between 160 and 760 points. 

 

Scaled scores are converted by the College Board—the group that administers the PSAT—from raw scores that account for variances in difficulty between different versions of the PSAT. Raw scores are equivalent to the total number of questions a student answered correctly. Students receive three raw scores:

 

  • Math
  • Reading
  • Writing and language 

 

The Selection Index is used to identify a student’s level of recognition from the National Merit program. Selection Index scores are calculated by adding together the three raw subsection scores and multiplying their total by two, with scores ranging from 48-228.

 

What is the National Merit Scholarship?

 

The National Merit Scholarship Program (NMSP) began in 1955 and consists of several different levels and awards. Every National Merit finalist competes for a National Merit Scholarship, which is a single-payment award of $2,500. There are also corporate-sponsored and college-sponsored awards for students who meet specific eligibility requirements.

 

Levels

 

The National Merit Scholarship Program features three levels of recognition: commended students, semifinalists, and finalists.

 

Commended Students

 

Commended students are chosen nationally, rather than on a state level. Commended students are approximately the top 50,000 scorers on the PSAT. More than two-thirds of the Commended Students receive Letters of Commendation in recognition of their outstanding academic promise and while they don’t qualify for National Merit Scholarships, many will compete for special scholarships sponsored by corporations and businesses. 

 

Semifinalists

 

Semifinalists are chosen on a state-by-state basis to ensure equal representation across the country. Semifinalists are the highest scorers on the PSAT in their state, and qualifying scores can vary from year to year. For example, in Maine, a score of 221 would have qualified as a Semifinalist last year, but you’d need a 215 in the 2022-2023 cycle to meet the cutoff. 

 

Finalists

 

Roughly 15,000 Finalists are selected from the pool of Semifinalists based on a variety of factors. All Finalists are awarded a Certificate of Merit.

 

Scholarships

 

National Merit Scholarship

 

A little more than half—about 7,600—of Finalists are chosen to receive a National Merit Scholarship. In addition to their PSAT scores, candidates are also evaluated on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments based on materials like their academic records, written recommendations, and essays.

 

Corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship Awards

 

Corporate-sponsored scholarships are available to students who meet certain criteria, such as children of employees, residents of the community where the corporation operates, or students with specific career plans as specified by the awarding corporation. Corporate-sponsored scholarships can either be one-time awards or renewable.

 

College-sponsored Merit Scholarship Awards

 

College-sponsored scholarships are awarded by schools that Finalists have been accepted to and designated as their first choice. College-sponsored awards are renewable for up to four years of undergraduate study and scholarship amounts vary.

 

Next Steps for Semifinalists

 

Here are the steps National Merit Semifinalists can take to become National Merit Scholars.

 

When Are Semifinalists Notified of Their Status?

 

Semifinalists are notified of their accomplishments through their high schools in early September. Homeschooled semifinalists receive notice at their home addresses. Finalists are notified in February of their senior year and find out if they won an award between March and June.

 

What Do Semifinalists Need to Do to Apply to Be a Finalist?

 

Semifinalists must meet a handful of requirements to become Finalists. For example, they must maintain an exemplary academic record, write an essay, and receive a recommendation from their high school principal. Semifinalists must also meet certain citizenship requirements along with achieving and submitting a confirming SAT or ACT score. Semifinalists must be enrolled in high school with the intention of enrolling in college or university in fall 2024. 

 

College choice is not considered when determining your status as a Finalist or scholarship recipient, however, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) asks for this information because the awards are only available to students attending accredited U.S. colleges or universities. Applicants can mark undecided instead of listing their first-choice school, but the NMSC asks that you update them as soon as possible.

 

Note: The National Merit Program has specific requirements for students attending high school outside the U.S. or who are enrolled in college full-time. Check National Merit’s Requirements and Instructions for Semifinalists in the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program.

 

How Does the PSAT Impact My College Chances?

 

Your PSAT score will not affect your chances of college admission. That said, the PSAT is still a useful exercise. For many students, the PSAT is the first time they will have taken an official, timed, and highly structured exam, and it provides excellent practice for the SAT and ACT. The PSAT allows students to familiarize themselves with the structure and content of the exam and to identify strengths and weaknesses which they can use as they prepare for more consequential exams. More and more colleges are offering test-optional admissions, but sending scores is commonly believed to make you a stronger candidate. 

 

Becoming a National Merit Scholar will boost any applicant’s odds of college admissions and completing the PSAT is the first step in that process. Commended Scholars and Semifinalists don’t garner the same attention from admissions offices, but are still impressive additions to any college application. 

 

Curious to see how you stack up against other applicants? Collegevine’s free chancing engine can predict your odds of admission at hundreds of colleges and universities. Our chancing engine uses factors like grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to help you find best-fit schools and refine your application strategy.

 

What If I Didn’t Score High Enough to be Recognized?

 

Don’t worry if you didn’t score high enough to earn recognition in the National Merit competition. The National Merit Scholarship isn’t a substantial financial award and there are numerous other ways to earn merit scholarships. Many colleges offer significant merit awards, particularly to desirable students. Applying to schools where your profile is strong is a smart strategy for securing one of these valuable merit scholarships.


Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.